The Town of Canmore sent part of its material recycling products to landfill for two months this year and has stepped up to inform the community about its mistake.
Chief Administrative Officer Lisa de Soto explained senior administration became aware on Friday (June 14) that mixed containers (plastics and metals) residents were recycling at new neighbourhood bins were actually going to landfill.
“There was a bit of a perfect storm that developed that created difficulty for our operators,” de Soto said. “We were down a couple of staff, but the two key issues were that Banff had not ramped up their staffing and were having difficulty meeting the number of loads we were bringing and… we had not received delivery of a brand new truck, which would have a completely sealed compartment.”
Canmore’s current recycling truck is not sealed, she explained, and when it travelled down the highway materials were escaping the bin and putting drivers at risk of losing their professional licences. Those circumstances resulted in a decision being made at a lower level of management to mix the plastic and metal containers with garbage and ship it to the landfill.
“We understand this has been happening for approximately two months, but it does reflect only that mixed container product, so all the paper materials like cardboard and newspaper that is collected through the neighbourhood bin system has been recycled appropriately,” de Soto said, adding all recycled materials collected at the Boulder Crescent and Sobeys depots were also recycled properly.
Mayor John Borrowman said he is satisfied administration has acted quickly to fix the problem once it came to light. He said he is also confident the work to identify the communication problem that resulted in the recycled goods being sent to landfill for two months without senior management becoming aware of it will also be addressed.
“There’s been a screw up, we fixed it and next we are going to figure out how the screw up occurred,” Borrowman said.
Approximately 60 per cent of Canmore has seen neighbourhood recycling bins installed so far as part of the new program. The new truck the municipality was waiting for has been delivered and de Soto said Banff is on board for accepting the mixed containers for recycling. Until Canmore’s new material recycling facility is completed, Banff has been contracted to sort the material.
“We want the public to continue to have confidence in the recycling program and continue to have confidence in the municipality that the materials they put in the recycling bins will be diverted,” she said.